2007′s Craziest: Vanessa’s Vajayjay

by (@katespencer)

vanessa-hudgens-2007.jpgLate this summer Vanessa Hudgens taught all of young Hollywood an important, valuable lesson – don’t take photos of yourself naked when you’re the star of a show beloved by billions of five-year olds. But honestly, we’re REALLY glad she did, because she made our summers that much sexier and entertaining! The up and coming starlet took the pics for one of her teen boy toys (either Drake Bell or Zac Efron) and the incident almost got her booted from the cast of the upcoming High School Musical 3. But all it took was a statement through her rep to make it all go away. She said, “This was a photo which was taken privately. It is a personal matter and it is unfortunate that this has become public.”

No it’s not. It’s awesome, and it made 2007 infinitely better. In a year where Paris Hilton got licked up and Nicole Richie knocked up, it was a relief to discover which hot young thing was taking control of the Hollywood scandal scene.

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Top 20 Singles of the Year (16-20)

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As 2007 dwindles down, we look back at our favorite tracks. For each of the past three Tuesdays, we?ve sung the praises of the 20 songs that made our year. See what made the cut, and let us know what you think of our choices.

Kanye West, ?Stronger? from Graduation (ROC-A-FELLA)

17_kanye.jpgBased around Daft Punk?s ?Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,? West?s top-charting single from his third album is part dance, part Nietzschean manifesto. Slamming together beats and rhymes in a furious display of his pop-star prowess, the producer-cum-rapper explains in no uncertain terms why he is the best thing to ever happen to music in the history of everything. Yes, some of the references are awkward, but his savvy wit and deep knowledge of the news of the day serves him well; any song that manages to somehow fit Kate Moss, O.J. Simpson, Isotoner gloves, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, A Bathing Ape, Prince and Apollonia into even a loose rhyme scheme is impressive. The video, which stars actors wearing Daft Punk?s robot suits and West?s post-post-modern fashion sense (Jeremy Scott sunglasses, Akira apparel), is the true star here, though, since it manages to both produce a vaguely coherent narrative and look extremely cool. Blame West?s fascination with Japanese art: His love of underground Japanese cultural lodestone Nigo (an artist, musician, clothing designer and all-around cultural kingpin) and artist Takashi Murakami have added up to something new entirely. Where the Wu-Tang were once fascinated by Bruce Lee, West has updated hip-hop?s not-so-latent orientalism. He wears it well.

Spoon, ?Finer Feelings,? from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (MERGE)

16_spoon.jpgIt seems Spoon saved the best for almost-last when they placed ?Finer Feelings? as the penultimate track on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. While the song traffics in many of the things the Austin quartet have been doing best for over a decade (bright, spiky indie pop with a dollop of barely concealed contempt from too-cool frontman Britt Daniel), it also comes with a few new features. Starting with a sample from Mikey Dread, a collaborator of known Spoon-influence the Clash, Daniel launches into what might be his most personal song to date, a portrait of the artist as a young man: ?I was part-time at the Tasty Prawn/ That and moving furniture and cutting lawns/ Covered in newsprint, staying up real late/ Just holding out for some fate.? The band then devolves into a melodic cacophony, an interlude straight out of the ?Day In The Life,? playbook, all ricocheting guitar, Motown bassline and what sounds like a moaning, slowed-down harmonica. Daniel resorts to a series of ?do do do do,? so as not to detract from the symphony of detail he?s conjured.

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Hottie of the Year: Who’s It Going to Be?

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It’s been a long, fascinating year filled with all sorts of pulchritudinous people. Now we want to know what you think: Who’s the hottest of them all? We’ve selected a few of your favorites to compete. First up, the ineffable New York. But what about Jes from Rock of Love? Think she can compete with Kim Kardashian? Or, for that matter, Chris Brown? And last but not least, there’s (unfortunately) nudie cutie, Vanessa Hudgens. Who’s the hottest?

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The Duff Sisters Kick Some Ass

by (@katespencer)

We’ve always found the Duff sisters to be pretty bland. Hilary is just like a vanilla version of an Olsen twin, and really the only thing to respect about Haylie is the fact that she’s never seem to give a sh*t about the constant criticism about her looks and sister-mooching. So it was seriously awesome to see them throw down again some asshole photographers who were stalking them at a hearing for their parents’ divorce. The sisters get sassy, and rightfully so. We like looking at them when they’re all drunk and fugly, but when they’re dealing with personal stuff that’s none of our business? No thanks. Leave them and their fashion mistakes alone while they deal with their family BS, please. [Socialite's Life]

Jessica Sierra: Knocked Up & Locked Up

by (@katespencer)

jessicasierra.jpgLast week it was Hollywood darling Jessica Alba who revealed that she was with child, and this week, as the pregnancy announcements continued, we noticed that they seemed to kinda slip in celebrity caliber. Alba and Lily Allen might be A or B List-ish, but Jamie-Lynn Spears is definitely rocking the D List. And now the Z-List rounds out the celebrity baby train, with the depressing news that drug-addicted American Idol finalist Jessica Sierra is knocked up – while locked up. One of the stars of VH1′s upcoming show Celebrity Rehab, Sierra is currently in the infirmary of her Florida jail on a pregnancy diet. She’s also reportedly “ecstatic” and says the father is “a rapper.”

We guess congratulations are in order, right? Maybe this will be her chance to straighten her shit out and quit that whole ‘getting piss drunk and offering to perform fellatio on her arresting officer’ thing she’s into these days. We just gonna assume that her future kid was not conceived during her sex tape, cause that would just be all sorts of wrong (fingers crossed).

Ashlee Simpson Overshadowed By Own Sister, Now Britney’s

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ashlee_simpsonPoor little Ashlee Simpson. First she’s second fiddle to big sis Jess, and Papa Joe’s least favorite child. In the pop landscape, Ash hasn’t had it easy, what with the frequent surgical updates and the whole lip-syncing thing. Folks don’t exactly think of her as an “artist,” but that was all supposed to change on Wednesday. Ash was going to make her big announcement, unveiling both the first video for her song “Outta My Head (Ay ya ya)” [Ed: Yikes] and the title for her latest album, Bittersweet World. The single, produced by Timbaland, reflects Ashlee’s latest desire: ?I wanted to do music with beats.”

But all that went out the window when a certain someone’s 16-year-old sister went and continued the cycle of dysfunction by getting herself knocked up. “?Ashlee can?t believe this happened. She?s so disappointed,? a source told MSNBC of Jamie-Lynn Spears‘ announcement. Ashlee stopped by TRL on Thursday to talk about her record, saying “I kind of laugh at things a lot, so you?ll hear that on the record.? Let’s hope Ash is able to laugh at her marketing campaign being overshadowed by teen pregnancy. Hilarious!

Britney’s Worst Year Ever: September

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You were there through the bad driving, the head-shaving and the Criss Angel thing. It?s been a tough year for our girl. No one could have imagined a mere 12 months ago that she?d create such glorious new nonsense every week. Some of the craziness escapes you? Come back every day: We?re counting down the events that made up the Year in Britney.

September 9Gimme Less ? After days of speculation, MTV announces that the recently rehabbed pop star would make her triumphant comeback on the channel that made her. Unfortunately, Spears spent the night before the performance out with Diddy, staying up until 6 a.m. and skipped the dress rehearsal. Sarah Silverman?s pre-performance monologue, and what looked like a handful of sedatives derailed Spears: She bombed, moving through her routine like a zombie. The only person who deemed the performance a success was 50 Cent, who called it ?a highlight?she worked it.? We believe that 50 was in the bathroom at this point in the show. [Us Weekly]

September 12 ? Timbaland Says Apologize ? In an interview with MTV News, Timbaland says that he and Justin will never work with Britney unless she apologizes. Timbaland remains vague about what caused the bad blood, saying only, ?She knows what she’s sorry about. She needs to say, ‘I was wrong,’ and it’ll definitely move forward…. That’s all she has to say.” The producer then called her ?big-headed.? At press time, it appears Timbaland is still waiting on apology. [MTV News]

September 17 ? It?s Not Us, It?s You ? Just hours after her lawyers quit, the pop star found herself without representation when The Firm pulled a Timberlake and dumped her because of her behavior: The company claimed that ?current circumstances? prevented them from working with the enormously talented pop star. Current circumstances?could they mean the head-shaving? Or the erratic behavior that might be the result of a serious drug addiction? Or the barefoot-in-public-restroom thing? This is the second time Brit?s management has quit in as many months. [People]

September 23 ? The Bodyguard ? In a sworn deposition in the custody battle between Kevin Federline and Britney Spears, former bodyguard Tony Barretto revealed the torments of his job as her protector: He had to allow her to rub her breasts on him and grind with her on a dancefloor. In addition to sexual harassment, Barretto was charged with keeping her full of Special K (her favorite cereal), and orchestrating the shutting down of Rite-Aids so the star could shop in privacy. [News of the World]

[Image: Seth Browarnik/Wire Image]

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Friday: Nice Day for a Spears Wedding

by (@katespencer)

jamielynn-1221.jpgAngelina Thinks We’re Obsessed with her Bod
Angie’s mad we got all freaked out by her skin and bones look this year. Just stop looking too thin and we’ll stop caring. [Us]

Is Jamie-Lynn Having a Shotgun Wedding?
Family members weigh in (oh, how the spotlight feels good!) on whether or not Jamie-Lynn Spears will wed her 18-year old sweetheart/baby-daddy. [People]

Jessica Alba Won’t Wear White While Pregnant
Just another knocked up Hollywood starlet who won’t walk down the aisle with a baby belly. [Us]

R. Kelly: Late for Court
The singer avoided arrest on child porn charges by showing up to court, but claimed the police made him late. Er, or he was too busy chatting up some kids outside the court house. [Bossip]

Ashley Tisdale Nose Backlash
The High School Musical star is getting a lot of hate thrown her way about her new, face-changing nose. Remember Jennifer Grey? Exactly. [TMZ]

Hottie of the Week: Mary J. Blige

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Photo_20x9_1 All Mary J. Blige Pics

The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and R & B releases her latest record today, Growing Pains. By all accounts, it’s a fine addition to her already impressive catalogue, featuring singles like “Work That,” which you might have seen on the ol’ iPod commercial. (Damn you, Mac! You and your cleverness will rue the day!) We couldn’t think of a more fitting pre-holiday hottie than Mary J. You all know her story: Discovered at a mall in 1988 covering Anita Baker’s “Rapture,” the songstress soon met Andre Harrell and was on her way superstardom. Diddy helmed the production end of her debut, and from there, the sky was the limit. She’s been nominated for a Grammy and will no doubt appear at the awards show, so until February, these photographs are just going to have to suffice.

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Top 20 Albums of the Year (16-20)

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Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year?s releases, and for the past three Thursdays, we?ve delivered five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.

Britney Spears, Blackout (JIVE)

16_britney.jpg The weirdest chapter in Britney Spears‘ incredibly weird year was that amid the rehab(s), the head-shaving, the VMAs bombing, the pole-dancing video that made Lindsay Lohan‘s I Know Who Killed Me look like actual art, the paparazzi run-ins, the child endangerment and the actual blackouts, Britney was able to turn out the album of her career. The 12-song Blackout isn’t art, per se, but it reflects what pop music in 2007 is so well that you wouldn’t be faulted for mistaking it as such. How much does its achievement have to do with Brit? Who knows. It could be that she sleepwalked through the making of it, showing up at the studio inebriated and letting producers like Danja, Bloodshy & Avant and the Neptunes do their progressive thing while she essentially rubber-stamped the stomping dance tracks with her notoriously unremarkable larynx. But it matters not: if on Blackout, she’s just the puppet she’s always been accused of being, she’s puppeting remarkably well. In the end, it’s reasonable to assume that she had a hand in selecting what made Blackout‘s final cut, and if that’s the case, she made up for a year of bad decisions with 12 fabulous ones.

Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (MERGE)

17_spoon.jpg With a title so dadaist, it?s ironic that Spoon?s sixth album is their most clear. But maybe it isn?t so ironic: the album?s title is taken from the onomatopoetic piano line that courses through the album?s second track ?The Ghost of You Lingers.? Rather than sail over the heads of their fans with the prickly, oblique lyrics frontman Britt Daniel has become famous for, the band seems to have gotten down to the bedrock elements of music ? sounds and feelings. Examples of the band?s movement toward sincerity riddle the record: Daniel tells his own genesis story on ?Finer Feelings,? empathizes with the long shot on ?The Underdog,? and even allows listeners behind the curtain on ?Don?t You Evah,? which begins with a studio joke between band members. The band get deeper into their influences, following in the foot steps of their punk-pop forefathers the Clash and experimenting on the down-beat reggae ode to a femme fatale ?Eddie?s Ragga.? ?You Got Yr Cherry Bomb? recalls Phil Spector?s production, filled with heavy reverb and horns. Breezing by in just 36 minutes, the band prove there?s no genre they can?t deftly maneuver.

Kanye West, Graduation (DEF JAM)

18_kanye.jpg Haughty is as haughty does. Hip-hop?s most reliable MC hasn?t given up on positioning himself as hip-hop?s most successful MC ? you know, hitting the club with all that fresh sh*t on and something crazy on his arm. But his bluster (?I always had a passion for flashing?) has oodles of creativity behind it, and it?s been a long time since any mic fiend dropped three home runs in a row. The rhymes may not be as perfect as those on College Dropout or Late Registration, and subject matter may be a tad monolithic, but with the striver-speak of ?Good Life? and ?Stronger,? the Luis Vuitton don can definitely lay claim to his hat trick.

Feist, The Reminder (INTERSCOPE)

19_feist.jpg As has been pointed out several times over, Feist once sang ?It may be years until the day my dreams will match up with my pay.? It only took about three years. The former punk-screecher turned filth-rap posse member turned Canadian musical collective member has worn many hats during her career, but it turned out Feist?s solo songs would spawn the most success. From the now ubiquitous revival-type feel goodery of ?1 2 3 4? (you know?the iPod song), to her vamping ?My Moon My Man,? to her update of the Nina Simone?s ?Sea Lion Woman,? Feist appears to have assembled the type of self-revelations (?I?ll be the one to break my heart,? ?There?s so much present inside my present,? ?You?re changing your heart, you know who you are?) that take people thousands of dollars and years in analysis to come to.

Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad (DEF JAM)

20_rihanna.jpg If Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer were to spend their time writing music as opposed to blowing up tractor trailers in movies, this is the kind of record they?d make — a big-budget splashy blockbuster, all done up in vibrant Technicolor with the audio to match. Rihanna, a Barbados-born teen, had shown earlier promise with infectious hits like ?SOS? and ?Pon de Replay,? but nothing on the size and scale of Good Girl, which continues to spawn hits long after its release (and that was only last May, if you can believe it). First, of course, there was ?Umbrella,? where she stretches the syllables of the word in the chorus to fit the melody — ?Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-oh-oh.? Genius. With its non-threatening, vaguely maternal offer of shelter from the rain, Rihanna welcomed fans by the dozen. She quickly followed that up with the Michael Jackson-inflected ?Don?t Stop the Music,? the sweet soul of ?Hate That I Love You,? the sad strains of ?Cry? and the tough stuff of ?Shut Up and Drive,? a song so powerfully poppy that they should probably seal it in a jar and bury it in the Nevada weapons-testing zone lest it get out and inspire generations to skip school and head straight for the studio. Who knew it was possible to craft pop so expertly in 2007?